Bad News: The Punk Turtle Who Breathes Out of Its Butt Is Going Extinct

The butt-breathing part isn’t even its most unique attribute.


There are too many mouth-breathers in this world, and not nearly enough butt-breathers. That’s according to a recent report from Science Alert announcing that the Mary River turtle — aka, the first and only punk turtle who also breathes out of its butt — is now officially endangered.

“The 40-centimeter-long water turtle — complete with wide nostrils, chin fingers and sometimes a nice green algae hairdo — can only be found on the Mary River in Queensland, Australia,” reported Science Alert. According to the same article, the reason this punk turtle is endangered is because its unique hairstyle made it a popular pet in the 1960s and 1970s: “Every year for 10 years, over 15,000 hatchlings were sent to pet shops across Australia, and after years of pillaging nest sites, humans successfully drove the species to the brink of extinction.”

But back to the butt-breathing part (which, even moreso than its hair, is about as punk rock as anything some of the greatest punk bands ever did): The Mary River turtle can breathe oxygen underwater for up to three days through a gill-like structure near its anus.


While this beast is the only one of its kind with green algae hair, it isn’t, however, the only animal — let alone the only Australian turtle — that can breathe through its butt. The Australian Fitzroy River turtle and the North American eastern painted turtle also breathe through their back end, reports Esther Inglis-Arkell for Gizmodo, explaining that they do so because it uses less energy, something of the utmost importance during their five-month hibernation process:

“Compare this to the relatively cheap butt breathing. Sacs next to the cloaca [common cavity at the end of the digestive tract], called bursa, easily expand. The walls of these sacs are lined with blood vessels. Oxygen diffuses through the blood vessels, and the sacs are squeezed out. The entire procedure uses little energy for a turtle that doesn’t have a lot to spare.”

Other butt breathers include the sea cucumber and the dragonfly nymph. Strangely enough, although human beings are able to talk out of their butt, we’ve yet to figure out a way to breathe through it. Unless you count the Tao Master’s method of anal breathing, which… well, we’ll just leave this here.